Entrenched Sexism in Film

Source: Hoare, Joanna. “Editorial.” Gender and Development, November 2007. Accessed November 15, 2016. http://www.jstor.org.erl.lib.byu.edu/stable/pdf/20461222.pdf.


In her editorial, Joanna Hoare discusses how the entrenched sexism in the film industry limits not only women, but also other minority groups. She begins her editorial by citing two major issues in the industry: the stereotypical portrayal of women and gender relations, and the lack of women in decision-making positions within media organization. These two issues form a vicious circle; because of the lack of women in higher positions in the film industry, women are portrayed as hysterical and incompetent, which creates an actual stereotype that women are hysterical and incompetent, thus hindering them from obtaining higher positions in any industry, not just in film.

Hoare also writes that a contributing factor to these problems is the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few. Generally, these “few” are wealthy, white males. Mainstream media does not challenge or highlight the contributions that other (racial and class) groups have made to society because these groups do not have any ownership in media. Additionally, the portrayal of women (as well as other minority groups) has not improved because of this same issues. Hoare argues that it is important that women are represented accurately in media because, in a globalized world of mass communication, media is very influential over our values, attitudes, and behaviors. When women are misrepresented in media, then those representations will be how society comes to view women. Hoare writes that “articles written about, or for, women overwhelmingly portrayed them as domestic, submissive, sexualised, and obsessed with fashion and shopping.”  These views are damaging because they reach a global audience, and soon a global audience could view women as submissive sex objects whose only interests revolve around physical appearance.

Hoare concludes her article by stating that since media is part of global communication, media can also be used to reverse the effects of damaging global communication.


3 thoughts on “Entrenched Sexism in Film

  1. Laura Mulvey spoke of film and the “Male Gaze” that most films and media portray. Women are always put into the roles that male viewers would find enjoyable rather than in empowering roles women would enjoy. The James Bond series is probably the most notorious for this.


  2. This is absolutely true! It is difficult to think of a film in which a woman is in a position of power and is taken seriously. Even in movies where a woman might have a successful career, it seems that that aspect of her is put on the back burner and her sexuality, desire for romance, or incompetence makes up the bulk of the narrative. The only film I can think of off the top of my head with a woman in power is “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock. She plays a woman who is “the boss” but she is shown as hysterical and incompetent.


  3. It is telling that men are the ones in power and that women are stereo-typically portrayed. I think women are starting to be shown as powerful and competent and the YA book to movie process is helping that along. Women are also starting to direct more movies, write more scripts, and produce movies. The new Ghostbusters movie is an example of that and it turns gender stereotypes around.


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